Nelson Piquet Jr leads NextEV 1-2 in Hong Kong Formula E qualifying

Nelson Piquet Jr headed a shock NextEV one-two in qualifying for the 2016/17 Formula E season opener in Hong Kong

Nelson Piquet Jr leads NextEV 1-2 in Hong Kong Formula E qualifying

The inaugural FE champion claimed his first pole position in a qualifying session that was red-flagged twice and ended without a superpole, which was cancelled due to time constraints.

Piquet endured a miserable title defence, finishing 14th in the points, but praised his team for turning around its fortunes for the 2016/17 opener.

"Oliver [Turvey] and I did a very good job and the team did an amazing job to improve from last year," he said.

Piquet's 1m03.099s pipped team-mate Turvey by just over a tenth of a second, with DS Virgin Racing locking out the second row of the grid.

Rookie Jose Maria Lopez starred to edge experienced team-mate Sam Bird for third, with the three-time World Touring Car champion just 0.15s slower than poleman Piquet.

Defending champion Sebastien Buemi will line up fifth after conceding to a mistake at the chicane at Turns 3 and 4, which was changed moments before qualifying began.

A long sausage kerb had been positioned inside the raised kerbing for practice but this was removed and the higher kerb is now more exposed.

Lucas di Grassi and Robin Frijns caused red flags by clattering that kerb too hard and being launched briefly airborne and into the barriers on the exit of the corner.

Felix Rosenqvist, who will start sixth, and Buemi survived their own moments, as did 17th-placed Ma Qing Hua.

But di Grassi and Frijns will start from the final row of the grid after di Grassi took the front corner of his Abt Audi Sport car off by hitting the barrier on the exit and Frijns nosed his Andretti machine completely into that barrier.

Techeetah's practice pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne had to settle for ninth on the grid, behind Daniel Abt and Loic Duval but ahead of the second works Renault of Nico Prost.

Vergne lapped 1.4s slower in qualifying than in FP2, having been fortunate to miss Frijns' when the Dutchman crashed just ahead of him on the road.

He aborted that lap due to the red flag and had to run again with only an outlap.

Mitch Evans suffered the same fate as Vergne, and the Jaguar driver will start his FE debut 16th.

It was not much better for his Jaguar team-mate and fellow rookie Adam Carroll, who has put the lead I-type 1 in 14th.

The British manufacturer is struggling on its return to major international motorsport, with Carroll's time 1.3s slower than Piquet's pole lap.

It was the only team not to get at least one driver within a second of the benchmark.

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Nelson Piquet Jr. NextEV 1m03.099s
2 Oliver Turvey NextEV 0.132s
3 Jose Maria Lopez Virgin 0.152s
4 Sam Bird Virgin 0.159s
5 Sebastien Buemi e.dams 0.218s
6 Felix Rosenqvist Mahindra 0.233s
7 Daniel Abt Abt 0.516s
8 Loic Duval Dragon 0.538s
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Techeetah 0.651s
10 Nicolas Prost e.dams 0.660s
11 Nick Heidfeld Mahindra 0.749s
12 Maro Engel Venturi 0.816s
13 Antonio Felix da Costa Andretti 0.958s
14 Adam Carroll Jaguar 1.329s
15 Stephane Sarrazin Venturi 1.421s
16 Mitch Evans Jaguar 1.489s
17 Ma Qinghua Techeetah 1.641s
18 Jerome d'Ambrosio Dragon 2.067s
19 Lucas di Grassi Abt 4.995s
- Robin Frijns Andretti 7.308s


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